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Acupressure May Decrease Preoperative Anxiety in Children

Acupressure is an alternative therapy that is closely related to acupuncture . However, acupressure involves pressure stimulation to acupuncture points instead of the needle stimulation used in acupuncture. This type of technique is also closely related to a type of Asian massage, Shiatsu. This technique has been used in China and Japan for centuries and has been reviewed by Western medicine for uses in pain and nausea relief. Research is still being done to understand the full range of benefits of acupressure.

Researchers from the Yale University School of Medicine reviewed the effect of acupressure on children’s pre-procedure anxiety. The study, published in Anesthesiology Analogs , found that acupressure could decrease the levels of anxiety in children about to undergo an invasive medical procedure.

About the Study

The small randomized trial involved 52 children aged 8-17. The children were scheduled to have an endoscopy or colonoscopy with general anesthesia . The participants were randomly divided into two groups. One group had acupressure between the eyebrows (at Extra-1 acupoint) before the procedure. The treatment was done with a self-adhesive bead that was applied by an acupressure specialist. The second group received a sham treatment . Both the acupressure and the sham treatment were delivered 30 minutes prior to procedure.

Participants' anxiety was measured using a child anxiety questionnaire. The measurements were done at baseline and 30 minutes after applying acupressure or sham treatment. The study also tracked the amount of anesthetic needed during the treatment. The participants that had acupressure reported a 9% reduction in anxiety, while the participants in the sham treatment had a 2% increase in anxiety. There was no difference between the groups in the need for anesthesia.

How Does This Affect You?

This was a very small study. Larger studies will need to be done to confirm the benefits found here. However, the treatment has no known negative side effects and the special self-adhesive bead does not need to be applied by a specialist. It is an easy and low-cost method to decrease a common problem.

Medical treatments can cause anxiety and stress for anyone. If your child is undergoing medical treatments, talk to your child's healthcare team about options to help your child through the process.




  • Acupressure. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: October 2007. Accessed November 11, 2008.
  • Wang SM, Escalera S, Lin EC, Maranets I, Kain ZN. Extra-1 acupressure for children undergoing anesthesia. Anesth Analg . 2008 Sep;107(3):811-6.

Last reviewed November 2008 by Larissa J. Lucas, MD

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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